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The spell Compulsion says:

Until the spell ends, you can use a bonus action on each of your turns to designate a direction that is horizontal to you. Each affected target must use as much of its movement as possible to move in that direction on its next turn.

Does this just mean that I can't tell a creature to climb a ladder? If I am spider-climbing on a wall, can I command the target to climb the wall? If there is a slope like a hill and I am standing at the bottom on flat earth, can I only indicate a direction that is horizontal to the horizon?

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Horizontal means parallel to the horizon or the “ideal” flat ground (even if no flat ground is nearby). Even if you're spider-climbing on a wall, horizontal stays horizontal — it's not sensitive to your personal orientation.

But this doesn't rule out ladders or hill slopes. You just can't indicate a direction that has any “up” or “down” to it and require them to move up. If you indicate a horizontal direction that happens to be in the direction of a hill slope, they still have to “use as much of its movement as possible to move in that direction on its next turn”. If the ladder or hill means they move in that direction and need to climb it to use as much of their movement in that horizontal direction, yes, they can climb if that's convenient for them to move more in the horizontal direction.

You just can't indicate “move directly up” or “move diagonally down” or something with this spell. No forcing people to jump or burrow into the earth.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you clarify how you believe the "to you" portion is meant to be interpreted? \$\endgroup\$ – Ethan Kaminski Nov 27 '17 at 9:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @EthanKaminski: Previous editions of D&D featured planes with some peculiar kinds of gravity where what's horizontal to one character might not be horizontal to others nearby. I'm not familiar enough with 5e to tell if such planar traits explicitly appear in any published 5e material (so far), but they certainly could show up e.g. in settings converted from earlier editions. \$\endgroup\$ – Ilmari Karonen Nov 27 '17 at 13:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another way of reading "horizontal to you" is "aligned with the combat grid/map". \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Nov 27 '17 at 15:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ The wording indicates that it is sensitive to your personal orientation. The spell description does not say "horizontal to the horizon or ideal flat ground". It says "horizontal to you". I am inclined to rule that the spell works exactly the way you describe in your answer, because that makes sense. But, the question deals with the specific choice of words, which seems to have been thought out with a particular outcome in mind. \$\endgroup\$ – Destruktor Nov 29 '17 at 16:51
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Compulsion (PHB p.224)

Until the spell ends, you can use a bonus action on each of your turns to designate a direction that is horizontal to you. Each affected target must use as much of its movement as possible to move in that direction on its next turn.

A target isn’t compelled to move into an obviously deadly hazard, such as a fire or pit, but it will provoke opportunity attacks to move in the designated direction.

You may designate any direction on the horizontal plane which is defined as being perpendicular to the caster's local gravity (when concerned with such things, such as on different planes with varying gravity directions). Then the target uses as much of its movement as possible to move in that direction.

The spell does not restrict the target using movement in any way beyond using as much as possible in the attempt to move in the direction chosen. If it must go up or downhill, climb over a wall, walk round a fire, swim, fly or crawl to be able to move in that direction, it will use as much of its movement as possible to do so. The only restriction is that it won't do things such as walk off a cliff or through the Wall of Fire. However it will risk OAs to maximise the distance moved in the chosen direction.

So just because the target is standing on a slope (or the caster is up a wall or flying or even ethereal) and you choose a direction that would lead it downhill towards from the caster (for instance) that does not stop the target from moving in that direction, it just moves vertically down as well as moving horizontally away.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You say "which is defined as being perpendicular to the caster's local gravity" — where is this definition found? \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Nov 27 '17 at 15:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm In the dictionary: "at right angles to the vertical; parallel to level ground." (dictionary.com/browse/horizontal) I added the gravity reference as D&D is magic and vertical (the direction gravity works in) can be different in different places. \$\endgroup\$ – Protonflux Nov 28 '17 at 17:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ No the rules use the English language the vocabulary of which which is defined by dictionaries. If you want to have your own definition then you are perfectly entitled to but don't pretend it is the English language you are using. Also if you are asking for an expert opinion I have been a Research Scientist at the UK National Physical Laboratory so I do have some credibility here. \$\endgroup\$ – Protonflux Nov 28 '17 at 18:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ You should write an answer using your definition and reference. \$\endgroup\$ – Protonflux Nov 28 '17 at 20:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ And we should stop having this discussion \$\endgroup\$ – Protonflux Nov 28 '17 at 20:19
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I think, that you can't do it. You can indicate direction that lay in the same plane of you feet (in normal condition, excepting fallen state, e.t.c), and if you choosing ladder - it's athwart first chosed direction.

Also, here the reference, with comments about deadly spots.

And if you are a spider-climbing on a wall, I think target can move only 2 directions enter image description here

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    \$\begingroup\$ Surely the target can move horizontally away or towards you as well? \$\endgroup\$ – Protonflux Nov 27 '17 at 12:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Protonflux I think that no. Just two straight directions - marked near target point. Maybe it more balanced than 4 degree of free movement direction - like, you currently on the wall, and it harder to hit you, but you limited in chosing direction \$\endgroup\$ – Ilya Mirolubov Nov 28 '17 at 5:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ You should imagine looking at your diagram from above, in a plan view, as the vertical direction does not have any bearing. Then you will see which directions the target can move includes all the horizontal ones. \$\endgroup\$ – Protonflux Nov 28 '17 at 17:09

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